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Lens review

Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-54 mm f/2.8-3.5

3 March 2010
Szymon Starczewski

4. Image resolution

In the case of this lens the material for comparison is rich indeed because we had already published the tests of the ZD 12-60 mm, the ZD 14-42 mm and the Leica 14-50 mm OIS. Let’s see how the ZD 14-54 mm performs in the frame centre, then.

Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-54 mm f/2.8-3.5 - Image resolution

We get a really nice performance at the shortest focal length which allows us to shoot sharp pictures even at the maximum relative aperture. The thing that makes us wonder is a very slow improvement of the picture quality on stopping down so the ZD 14-54 mm gets worse results than the ZD 12-60 mm and the Leica 14-50 mm. It outperforms the kit 14-42 mm lens without a problem, though.

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The best results, which can be easily described as outstanding, we reach at 30 mm. Here, the tested lens behaves like the much-praised ZD 12-60 mm, a bit better than the Leica and significantly better than the kit lens.

Unfortunately near the longer end of the focal range the ZD 14-54 lowers its standards. We are really worried about the maximum aperture performance which can be described only as average. On stopping down a bit the lens fares much better although still worse than the ZD 12-60 mm and the Leica 14-50 mm.

The differences are especially pronounced in the case of the latter, because of a similar focal lengths range and fastness. The Leica keeps an ideal balance between all focal lengths presenting a very high level everywhere. The ZD 14-54 mm is better than the Leica in the middle of the range but worse at both extremes. Considering the fact that the price difference between those two devices is simply huge the ZD’s 14-54 mm performance must be assessed very positively nevertheless. In addition, if you own a “kit” 14-42 mm the lens, tested here, will provide plenty of reasons for changing your equipment, mainly because of its very good frame centre performance.

Let’s have a look at the frame edge results now.

Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-54 mm f/2.8-3.5 - Image resolution

Once again we can notice that the lens fares the best at 30 mm, where it reaches a similar result as the ZD 12-60 mm, a tad better than the Leica and significantly better than the “kit”.

The shortest focal length is undoubtedly the Achilles heel. Here, the tested lens loses to both the ZD 12-60 mm and the Leica. What’s more, even the “kit” 14-42 mm device presents a challenge for the ZD 14-54 mm there, especially when we forget for a while its weak maximum aperture.

Luckily, we see a better performance at the maximum focal length. It is very much like that of the ZD 12-60 mm, a bit worse that the Leica’s but significantly better than in the case of the kit lens.

To sum up we can say that the Four Thirds system keeps the direct proportion of price and quality. The weaker resolution we have in the case of the “kit” 14-42 mm lens but this device, being clearly the cheapest, represent a good price/quality ratio. When we pay an additional sum of 220 $ we can buy the ZD 14-54 mm which outperforms significantly the kit lens at virtually every combination of parameters. Sometimes the Leica beats it slightly but it is also distinctly more expensive as it features additional, in –built stabilization. The best image quality gives us the ZD 12-60 mm but we must pay as much as 800 $ for it. Instead, we get a wider focal lengths range and an SWD motor, though. We should mention one more thing here. In many cases the differences between the ZD 14-54 mm, the Leica and the ZD 12-60 mm are really very slight and often difficult to notice in amateur photography.

Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-54 mm f/2.8-3.5 - Image resolution